Last week the world lost Alan Rickman. This week fans of the sixty nine year old actor are being reminded of how important the Harry Potter franchise was to him.
Of course we all know Rickman played Slytherin professor Severus Snape. He was a character that early on seemed to be one dimensional. The character everybody loved to hate. But Rowling and Rickman both knew that there was more to the dark and brooding character.
When the final Harry Potter film was released, Rickman admitted that right from the beginning J.K. Rowling had given him a little hint that there was more to Snape than met the eye. She gave him a “tiny piece of information” which let him know Snape wasn’t just black and white.
The mysterious “piece of information” had fans curious until Rowling confessed what it was. She tweeted:
“I told Alan what lies behind the word ‘always.'”
The word “always” in the Potterverse refers to the love between Lily (Harry’s mother) and Snape. That love softened him towards Harry and created a protective bond between them.
Rickman told Hit FX in 2011 that knowing more about what’s inside Snape allowed him to dig deeper into his performance. He said:
“[It] helped me think that he was more complicated and that the story was not going to be as straight down the line as everybody thought. If you remember when I did the first film she’d only written three or four books, so nobody knew where it was really going except her. And it was important for her that I know something, but she only gave me a tiny piece of information which helped me think it was a more ambiguous route. What I knew was he was a human being and not an automaton and I knew there was some sense of protection for Harry or I worked that out.”
After Rickman passed, Rowling took to Twitter to give a shout out to her co-worker. On Thursday she tweeted:
“There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor & wonderful man.”
With Rickman gone, fans are looking back to April 2011. That was the year of the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. It was the last time he would play Snape and he wanted to do something special to thank his co-stars and Rowling herself.
With that in mind he wrote a letter to Empire Magazine. It read:
“I have just returned from the dubbing studio where I spoke into a microphone as Severus Snape for absolutely the last time. On the screen were some flashback shots of Daniel, Emma, and Rupert from ten years ago. They were 12. I have also recently returned from New York, and while I was there, I saw Daniel singing and dancing (brilliantly) on Broadway. A lifetime seems to have passed in minutes.
Three children have become adults since a phone call with Jo Rowling, containing one small clue, persuaded me that there was more to Snape than an unchanging costume, and that even though only three of the books were out at that time, she held the entire massive but delicate narrative in the surest of hands.
It is an ancient need to be told in stories. But the story needs a great storyteller.
Thanks for all of it, Jo.
People who had worked with Rickman only had positive things to say. He was a true artist and evidently a lovely, generous and compassionate human being. Marathon watching the Harry Potter films will certainly have a sting of nostalgia and loss now that he is gone.